Data on the composition of foods underpin a wide range of food research. It is vital that this food composition data is reliable, accurate and comprehensive. The Food & Nutrition National Bioscience Research Infrastructure within the Quadram Institute is responsible for compiling and publishing data on the nutritional composition of foods eaten in the UK.

These datasets, as well as being useful for food labelling, are used extensively by dietitians, nutritionists and healthcare professionals. The data also support research into the links between food diet and heath at the Quadram Institute, in national and international collaborative projects, and are a valuable resource for academics. The datasets allow researchers to link the levels of different nutrients in the diet to health. As well as continually reviewing the data, we are also improving dietary assessment to allow us to measure and record food intake more accurately.

Data are published online and in book form; McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods is now in its 7th edition and remains the authoritative and essential resource for anyone needing nutritional data on UK foods. It lists macronutrient (fats, carbohydrate, protein) and micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) for over 1,200 of the UK’s most commonly eaten foods.

The Food & Nutrition National Bioscience Research Infrastructure has also developed databases on bioactives, called eBASIS, and ePlantLIBRA. Bioactives are non-nutrient compounds found in foods, that have effect on the body and may also improve or maintain health. The datasets on bioactives connect with, and provide support to, research at the Quadram Institute into bioactives in food.

In addition to the work of the Food & Nutrition National Bioscience Research Infrastructure, QI’s Analytical Sciences Unit carries out research aiming to develop novel approaches for characterising foods and ingredients using chemical profiling techniques.

Targeting food composition

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